Unity starts with you

What is unity, really? 

The Bible is filled with unity. Today's world is filled with unity. We unify quite often. We come together as a church every Sunday....that's being unified enough, right? 

 True, biblical unity is characterized by being grounded in the knowledge of God’s Truth.  

In a perfect world each and every single one of us would come together and be truly, wholeheartedly unified. Welcome to the real world -a place where that just simply isn't true. 

So, what now? Just throw up our arms and give up? Throw a temper tantrum when we don't get our way? Punch the next person that gets on our nerves? Leave the place you love over disagreements? While those simply tend to be our emotional  reflexes; that doesn't mean we should resort to those solutions. Even if we want to. 

How to be unified and become one body of Christ during a time of disagreement: 

It all starts and ends with you! We aren't puppets. You can't simply reach your hand up the back of someone's shirt and literally put the words into their mouth. We are individuals, with our own individual thoughts. And we are always chomping at the bit to let everyone know exactly what is on our mind. The destiny of disagreements are in your hands. How will you handle it?

When I look back some of my biggest arguments (and I'm talking about some pretty radical hot-headed-full-blown-temper type of disagreements) have been with people I absolutely love the most. So, when I see churches fall apart due to disagreements among one another. I completely understand how it happens. Church becomes family. We come together every week, we eat together, we cry together, we pray and serve the Lord together. We become the closest thing to blood relatives. When an issue arises it's almost as if we've been stabbed in the heart. If you think about it, disagreements give us a chance to open up and really get to know each other's views and where our hearts really stand. Disagreements within church (or life, for that matter) give us a chance to connect with one another. It's how you go about handling the disagreement that will determine the health of your relationship. 

 

1) Am I being Christ like? 

“Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;”
— Philippians 1:27

2) Always, always, always, give it time. 

Stop. Think. Step away and really assess the situation. Hypothetically, step in the other person's shoes and see both sides of the situation. Allow time to pass while you do this or before making any decisions. 

3) Sometimes it's not about what you say, it's how you say it. 

Think before you speak. If you reply in the heat of passion you're probably going to say things you don't mean. Or use an unintentional tone. Generally, people remember what tone of voice you used as opposed to what you actually said. So, really think before you speak. 

4) Be tactful. Remember, it's okay to disagree with someone. 

We are all different types of people. That's a beautiful thing! Don't focus on the things you don't like about people (because I'm sure there are plenty of things people don't like about you.) Bring light to the positive things that you like about someone. Sometimes you lose a person and they will leave church over something -that you think- is miniscule. This may be something that is really hurtful or strong willed in their heart. Acknowledge that and pray they are able to be healed of their pain. 

5) Talk, talk, talk, communicate.

I see so many disagreements, fallen friendships, and estranged families over miscommunication and hearsay. Lay everything out on the table -what you heard, what you think, how you feel. Be honest and speak to one another in a caring manner. As much as you should be talking, be sure to also listen. 

6) Above all else, love all! 

Love the person that doesn't like you, disagrees with you, follows in sinful footsteps. Sometimes it isn't about fixing things  -it's about accepting. Follow along God's path and love each and every person  and everything else will follow. 

Turn negative into a positive -by being the positive. 

Show love -even when you don't want to. 



I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.
— 1 Corinthians 1:10

You have the power to unify in the world and in the church by setting an example of what it means to be unified. Stand up, be strong, and be the example of Christ. And remember that sometimes you can agree by agreeing to disagree. 

Being confident, faithful, and loving

I'll be honest, from time-to-time, it's hard to find real-life applications to some of the biblical stories. In a round about way, I understand where the Corinthians were coming from in asking questions that made Paul say, "Really?" with a raised eye brow (totally visualizing here.) When you start a new lifestyle midway through your life, beliefs tend to overlap and make you question things that you know shouldn't be an issue. A "Duh" moment, if you will. 

When we don't receive a straight forward answer to our question, we need to ask ourselves if we already obtained the answer somewhere within. Sometimes life isn't about not getting your questions answered. It's about finding the depths of your belief. Don't go digging through things you aren't able to change. It's not about searching for the unknown.  Expand on the changeable and the obtainable. 

 In 1 Corinthians, chapter 8 (in a very small nutshell) brings up the fear of the Corinthians and questioning whether to eat the meats that had been offered to idols. And Paul, instead of giving a straight forward answer, he sort of questions their faith and responded,

“an idol has no real existence,” and that “there is no God but one.”(1 Corinthians 8: 4)

Essentially, saying as long as you believe this is true, you shouldn't be questioning whether or not to eat it. Almost as if Paul was pointing out their own self-doubt. 

However, not all possess this knowledge. But some, through former association with idols, eat food as really offered to an idol, and their conscience, being weak, is defiled.(1 Corinthians 8: 7)

Paul is basically telling the Corinthians if you believe in God, trust in God, 100%. Put all doubt aside. Also, figure out where you stand within yourself. So often our brains are wishy washy and question things outwardly, when really we are just trying to figure out where we stand in our hearts.

In today's world we are more outspoken than ever. Our fingers ache at the temptation to quickly fill the blank space of "What's on your mind." Somewhere, along the road from our hearts, to our brain, and finally out our mouths, wires get criss-crossed and unintentional things come spewing out. 

We are rude, unloving, cynical, demanding, and self reliant on protecting our character. Even myself, I'd like to think I am a nice person with everyone's interests in mind. However, I know I've shoved a few one too many feet down my throat in my many years.

It's bound to happen. It happens to the best of us. 

Too often our insecurities snake out and show the worst side of ourselves. Once we become confident and goal driven toward our beliefs, we can stomp out the unnecessary doubt that lives inside of us.  

I keep seeing this viral image going around saying, "Surround yourself with positive people." As if we are the positive person that needs like-minded people. Maybe we need to stop looking at people as negative. You only find the negative you are searching for. Stop looking at the bad and dig deeper to find the good. It's out there and everyone obtains at least a piece of it somewhere. 

This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up. (1 Corinthians 8:1)

I believe this applies to us, today as well. Don't let what you think you know about people determine how you treat someone. Don't allow it make you feel as if you are better than your peers, your neighbors, your family, or friends. Love. Show love. Extrude -from within- love and unite.